The National Telecommunications Commission reminded the public to prepare for the registration of their subscriber identity module (SIM) cards which will start two days after Christmas.
NTC consultant Edgardo Cabarios said that while the law does not impose a limit on the number of SIM cards one may register, owners should be mindful of any unauthorized use as registered users will be responsible for all of them since the SIM card will be linked to their identity. If it is forgotten or lost and used by someone else for illegal activities, the registered owner will become part of the investigation.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the SIM card registration law, Republic Act No. 11934, on October 10. The NTC released its implementing rules on December 12, setting a six-month registration period for all SIM cards, postpaid and prepaid, old and new, beginning on the 27th.
Cabarios expects people to think twice before registering multiple SIM cards under their names. He added that SIM cards that get lost or stolen should be reported immediately to the telecom which is obligated to deactivate them within 24 hours to prevent use in illegal activities.
There are 158.6 million active SIM cards in the Philippines, 82 percent of which are prepaid.
Telcos are required to set up their own registration websites or platforms where end users can register SIM cards online. Owners will be asked to provide personal information such as name, address, date of birth and gender, along with a copy of a valid government issued photo ID.
Those caught registering with fictitious or wrong information could face imprisonment of six months to two years, a P100,000 goo P300,000 fine, or both.
Cooperation will be needed from Filipinos for this government initiative to prevent the illegal use of SIM cards to work properly. However, government will also need to do its job and review the details of the IRR to make the process easier so Filipinos, especially the poor ones without smart phones and access to internet are not inconvenienced by the process and also put in the necessary safeguards to ensure that all the submitted personal data is kept as secure as possible as any leak or misuse of that treasure trove of information could sink the program, along with any trust Filipinos have in their government’s ability to protect them and their information.*